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The TI 8 qualifiers are done and dusted. The 18 teams going to Vancouver have been finalized. And as soon as the last qualifier got over, Valve dropped the new patch on us! 7.18 is out and it is again, a patch that makes minor changes to heroes and a few item changes. The game mechanics have not been tampered with. As with all hero patches, there are a few losers and quite a few winners, and we shall look at the prominent ones.

1) Aeon Disk
* Aeon Disk: Cooldown increased from 90 to 115

After being shunned for a long time, players suddenly realized the value of this item. Lineups that depend on bursting down heroes get countered a bit too hard with Aeon Disk. Case in point, Secret’s game against Vici Gaming at the Supermajor where Secret got Aeon Disk’s against Paparazzi’s farmed Invoker and eventually ended up winning the game after a horrendous start. The nerf is required, and this should set it back a bit.


2) Hand of Midas
* Hand of Midas: Cooldown reduced from 95 to 90

The professional scene has forgotten the existence of Hand of Midas (except Enigma maybe?). But with longer games and a shorter cooldown and longer games, it’s only a matter of time before the item makes a comeback.



1) Clinkz
* Clinkz: Strafe cooldown reduced from 45/35/25/15 to 30/25/20/15
* Clinkz: Strafe manacost reduced from 90 to 75/80/85/90

Really? Another buff for Clinkz? It seems like an endless sea of buffs for the Bone Fletcher. It has been six consecutive patches of buffs for Clinkz. I can understand teams not experimenting with the hero in the qualifiers, but once they realize the potential of the hero in scrims, hell will be unleashed with fiery arrows! I would actually want it that way. Let Clinkz have his tournament. In the TI 8 qualifiers, CLinkz was picked 7 times and won 3 of those games. A lot better than 7.12 to 7.16 where he did not make a single appearance in professional games.


2) Crystal Maiden
* Crystal Maiden: Crystal Nova damage increased from 100/150/200/250 to 130/170/210/260
* Crystal Maiden: Arcane Aura self mana regen increased from 1.6/2.4/3.2/4 to 1.8/2.6/3.4/4.2

Another hero along with Clinkz who has received buffs right from 7.10. This particular change may open up some avenues for CM in the early game. An AoE nuke that does 130 damage every 11 seconds? Does not sound too bad to me.



3) Earthshaker
* Earthshaker: Base HP regen increased from 2 to 2.5
* Earthshaker: Base movement speed increased from 305 to 310
* Earthshaker: Enchant Totem Scepter cast range increased from 900 to 1100
* Earthshaker: Echo Slam Echo damage increased from 60/85/110 to 70/90/110
* Earthshaker: Echo Slam waves are no longer disjointable

We saw Earthshaker a lot at TI 7 and then we hardly saw him in the new season. I have a feeling we will see him a lot at TI 8.  The new ES has more sustain in lane, increased mobility to chase/escape, more range to hit that big Totem and higher Echo Slam damage that CANNOT be avoided by blinking away. I mean, I don’t get why Earthshaker of all heroes needs big buffs like these when others are languishing, but somewhere in Europe, I bet GH is already spamming Raigor Stonehoof.


4) Enigma
* Enigma: Midnight Pulse damage increased from 3/3.75/4.5/5.25% to 3.75/4. 25/4.75/5.25%
* Enigma: Midnight Pulse duration rescaled from 11 to 9/10/11/12
* Enigma: Midnight Pulse cooldown rescaled from 35 to 50/45/40/35
* Enigma: Midnight Pulse manacost rescaled from 95/110/125/140 to 75/95/115/135
* Enigma: Level 15 Talent increased from +120 Gold/Min to +150
* Enigma: Level 20 Talent increased from +400 Health to +500 Health
* Enigma: Level 25 Talent increased from +4 Malefice Instance to +5

As if it wasn’t tough enough to decide on Enigma’s level 15 talent. It just got a lot tougher with patch 7.18. +150 GPM at level 15? I mean, cooldown reduction is important no doubt, but how fast can you get an Octarine and Refresher’s with the additional GPM at 15? Pretty fast is what I’m guessing. There is the argument to be made the cooldown reduction talent does reduce the cooldown on a Hand of Midas and effectively improves GPM. But I wonder how many will be enticed with this talent. Besides that, Midnight Pulse has been changed quite a bit. The duration nerf isn’t the biggest deal as no one actually stays in there for the entire duration. But with the increase in damage at early levels along with the reduced mana cost, there is even more potential for lane domination. Perhaps even a position 4 Enigma, like Zai played quite successfully today in Optic’s win against Immortals. A position 4 Enigma is expected to support items, like Guardian Greaves, and not a Midas, so the GPM talent come in handy as well!


5) Enchantress
* Enchantress: Attack range increased from 550 to 575
* Enchantress: Untouchable attack slow increased from -20/60/100/140 to -20/70/120/170
* Enchantress: Impetus damage increased from 14/18/22% to 16/20/24%

Attack range increased. Damage based on distance increased. What more do I need to say? It is a strong case made for a core offlane Enchantress.


6) Invoker
* Invoker: Level 10 Talent increased from +0.5s Tornado Lift Time to +1.25s
* Invoker: Level 15 Talent changed from +2.5s Cold Snap Duration to -12s Cold Snap Cooldown

With the recent buff to Invoker (removed mana cost for Invoke), he is being picked a bit more than earlier. OG’s Topson has been playing quite a bit of Invoker and it is for players like him, who like playing the Quas Wex Invoker, this buff is really good. The increased Tornado time is an assured way of hitting the EMP and depleting the opposition mana. According to Dota Plus, both the talents that have received buffs are hardly picked at the Divine level. I still think the level 15 talent won’t have much of an effect as the extra Forged Spirit is better. But Quas Wex Invokers don’t care about early game Meteor damage and will probably go for the increased Tornado duration.


7) Pudge
* Pudge: Meat Hook cast range increased from 1000/1100/1200/1300 to 1300
* Pudge: Flesh Heap magic resistance increased from 6/8/10/12% to 8/10/12/14%

1300 range at level 1? Are you kidding me? I don’t know if Pudge will see the daylight in professional games, but in pub games, this is going to be a nuisance. This is the perfect recipe for a level 1 First Blood. Stay in the shadows or smoked up on the high ground, land a Hook with the other support besides you, get First Blood, go to the side lanes. A few patches ago, the distance between the mid towers was reduced. This was meant to avoid mid lane ganks, but as Pudge pulls the enemy towards him, it doesn’t really matter and in fact, helps him position for a Hook.


8) Terrorblade
* Terrorblade: Agility gain increased from 3.7 to 4.2

Why? Just why? I thought we got rid of the TB cancer for a while and IceFrog goes and buffs him. Let him stay in the part of hell he’s from for a while. I’m sure Miracle is smiling reading this change. It is a good buff after the recent nerfs. TB got a agin gain increase from 3.2 to 3.7 in 7.17. With this change in 7.18, it is effectively an agi gain increase of 1 (over 2 patches). At 4.2, TB now has the highest agi gain in the game. The thing is, TB isn’t as bad as like Tiny was these last few patches. So a small buff could be good enough to bring him back into the meta.


9) Tiny
* Tiny: Strength growth increased from 3.3 to 3.6
* Tiny: Tree Grab unit attack damage bonus increased from 10/20/30/40% to 25/30/35/40%
* Tiny: Tree Grab building attack damage rescaled from 90/120/150/180% to 80/120/160/200%
* Tiny: Toss damage increased from 75/150/225/300 to 90/160/230/300

The main thing that made Tiny popular earlier on in the season was the splash damage. 100% splash damage made farming a lot easier. We see a number of buffs here, but none to the splash damage. This still makes a compelling case to get the Stone Giant back into the meta. But with no DPC events remaining, it’s hard to say if teams will go for the gamble at The International.


10) Ursa
* Ursa: Overpower attack count increased from 3/4/5/6 to 4/5/6/7
* Ursa: Level 20 Talent increased from +12 Fury Swipes Damage to +16

There are few early game threats like Ursa and that one increased attack count in Overpower makes it a lot of extra damage owing to Fury Swipes. Also with Roshan getting stronger, this makes a compelling case for Ursa as it just got easier to get a quick kill on Rosh.


11) Weaver
* Weaver: Agility gain increased from 2.8 to 3.1
* Weaver: Shukuchi damage increased from 80/110/140/170 to 100/125/150/175

Weaver is another one of the long lost heroes that haven’t been seen in a while, expect when EE Sama picks it up randomly for some game. The increased Shukuchi damage can be a lane harassing tool. Position 4 Weaver was quite common a year back and it shouldn’t be totally out of the question here. Especially with Drow Ranger getting increasingly popular, a position 4 Weaver can impart a lot of damage with both, Shukuchi and right clicks!



1) Beastmaster
* Beastmaster: Wild Axes manacost increased from 80 to 80/85/90/95
* Beastmaster: Primal Roar cooldown increased from 80/75/70 to 90/80/70
* Beastmaster: Level 10 Talent reduced from +25 Movement Speed to +20
* Beastmaster: Level 15 Talent reduced from +7 Armor to +6
* Beastmaster: Level 20 Talent reduced from +100 Wild Axes Damage to +80

Beastmaster is the polar opposite of Earthshaker. Nerfs in all departments. Although the nerfs will have an effect on the pick rate, what hasn’t been nerfed is his laning game. Beastmaster can combo with numerous heroes to just destroy the enemy safelaner. A couple of combos that come to mind are Beastmaster paired with Keeper of the Light or Io. Lot of nerfs here. But I doubt it will stop teams from picking him.


2) Clockwerk
* Clockwerk: Power Cogs burn/damage reduced from 80/120/160/200 to 50/100/150/200

Won’t be surprised if Power Cogs are completely removed from the game in a few weeks. A lot of early game nerfs has seen him go down the pecking order. I don’t think this will cripple him too much more, but it still is a nerf added to the pile.



3) Io
* Io: Relocate now has channel time instead of a cast delay

Had to be done. Just had to be done. Banned or picked in more than 80% of the game tells the entire story. It’s just frustrating when you have the opposition core locked down and Io Tethers and takes him away immediately! With this change, Io will first have to Tether to the target, then channel the Relocate. This gives the opposition a chance to stop the Relocate. If that is successful, both the heroes remain there and are probably sent back to the well. Should make Io a lot less popular now.


4) Naga Siren
* Naga Siren: Rip Tide damage reduced from 120/160/200/240 to 80/130/180/230
* Naga Siren: Ensnare cooldown increased from 12 to 14

Naga Siren and Sand King fall pretty much in the same category. Keep nerfing them and they come up big in important games and keep getting picked. The nerfs to early Rip Tide and Ensnare will definitely set her back, but the all the charm of the hero lies in the Song of the Siren. Setup, save, escape..that is a one of a kind ultimate.


5) Night Stalker
* Night Stalker: Void now deals half damage during day
* Night Stalker: Base movement speed reduced from 290 to 285

Pretty soon NS will be referred to as Dracula because with the daytime nerfs, he might as well sit in base and not come out. One hero IceForg is trying to get rid of before TI and I would say it is already working. IN the 50 NS games played in the TI 8 qualifiers, only 20 were won by the team that picked him (39.22% win rate). This seems like bit of an excessive nerf.


6) Sand King
* Sand King: Burrowstrike cooldown increased from 11 to 14/13/12/11

You just can’t keep a King down. The nerfs started coming from 7.07d, which was at the very start of the season and still, SK has been the most played hero this season, hands down, with 1165 games to his name (Disruptor in second place has 958). I am sick of seeing the hero and I am quite sure IceFrog is sick of nerfing him, but it really needs to be done to take the Scorpion out of the meta for a while.



7) Skywrath Mage
* Skywrath Mage: Arcane Bolt manacost increased from 70 to 90

Skywrath’s popularity has skyrocketed in the past few patches. Skywrath was the third most played hero in the TI 8 qualifiers with 76 games under his belt. This hampers his early game harass potential due to the dearth of mana. Of course, getting a ton of Clarities is always an option. To make things a bit simpler, for every 5 Arcane Bolts Skywrath could unleash earlier, he will be able to unleash 4 now (with 10 additional mana).


8) Warlock
* Warlock: Shadow Word manacost increased from 90/110/130/150 to 120/130/140/150
* Warlock: Shadow Word cast range reduced from 525/600/675/750 to 450/550/650/750

This is a clear reaction to Warlock’s performance in the TI 8 qualifiers. Being the second most picked hero (after Windranger)., Warlock had 90 games to his name with 50 wins (55.56% win rate). The cast range should not be the biggest issue. But the mana cost increase for Shadow Word makes it a bit difficult to spam the skill in lane, be it for harass or sustain.


With no more DPC events or TI qualifiers remaining, I wonder if we will see any more changes till TI. There will be no metric to gauge how the new changes are faring so there is a high chance that whatever impact 7.18 will have on the meta will directly be seen on The International 2018.



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